Fylde flyer Shelly Woods described her magnificent seventh triumph in the Great North Run as her toughest yet.
The St Annes-based 29-year-old won her third successive women’s wheelchair race at the Tyneside half-marathon by 11 seconds from American rival Amanda McGrory, but only after longtime leader Margriet van den Broek crashed into a hay bale turning into the final straight, eventually finishing third.
Woods, who first won the event a decade ago, finished in 53mins, 38secs, over three minutes behind her winning time last year. She said: “It was my hardest win here and my hardest race for a long time. I had to work so hard.
“The Dutch lady pulled away early on and I was trying to close the gap for 10 miles.
“Just as I managed to chase her down she crashed as we came to the seafront, which was a shame becuase I was building up to a sprint finish.”
Woods is fully focused on a third Paralympics next year, having won medals at the previous two. She added: “My form has been up and down but I hope to go to Rio and am using every race to prepare. The Great North Run always puts a smile on my face.”
Woods’ win moves her within one of Tanni Grey-Thompson’s record eight Great North Run titles.
The men’s and women’s titles were retained by Britain’s Mo Farah and Kenyan Mary Keitany, while Woods’ coach David Weir claimed his sixth men’s wheelchair victory.